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Daniel T Levin, Donald A Varakin; Failure to detect brief disruptions to visual events. Journal of Vision 2003;3(9):589. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/3.9.589.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Previous research on inattention blindness has demonstrated that when people focus their attention on one object they do not detect the appearance of another object. In the current experiments, we demonstrate that inattention blindness can occur even when subjects are not required to attend to a distracter object. Subjects viewed brief videos of simple real-world events such as a collision between two people, or a person sitting down and reading a newspaper. Each event included a moment in which an object moved from one side of the screen to another. For example, during the newspaper video, the actor turned the page. Within these movements, we placed a disruption consisting of very low spatial frequency motion field that was either consistent or inconsistent with the direction of on-screen object motion. In our initial experiments, most subjects failed to detect 200 ms disruptions, whether or not they were consistent with their object-motion context, but were more successful in detecting disruptions that did not occur during on-screen movements. In a second experiment, we lengthened the disruptions and found no increase in detection of 400 ms and 600 ms disruptions. In addition, we tested whether a static stimulus would be detected, and found that even a 600 ms series of blank frames was not detected by a large proportion of subjects. We suggest that visual attention in an ecological context is strongly shaped by well-structured events such that samples from the visual world may not reach awareness once sufficient information has been obtained to specify the nature of an event.
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